George Wesley Bellows, 12 Aug 1882 - 8 Jan 1925
Billy Sunday, 19 Nov 1862 - 6 Nov 1935
Lithograph on paper
Sheet: 40 × 55.9 cm (15 3/4 × 22")
Mat: 55.9 × 71.1 cm (22 × 28")
Billy Sunday: Male
Billy Sunday: Sports and Recreation\Athlete\Baseball
Billy Sunday: Religion and Spirituality\Preacher\Evangelist
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Restrictions & Rights
Born Ames, Iowa
In 1891, Billy Sunday, the star left-fielder for the Philadelphia Phillies, was offered a contract paying him considerably more money per month than an industrial worker would earn in a year. But he left the game—for considerably less money—to become an evangelist and Bible teacher for the YMCA. Converted four years previously and having heard the call, Sunday would go on to become one of America’s most popular evangelists. Although his career waned in the 1920s, he was still in demand, and he traveled and preached until his death, eventually reaching more than 100 million people. Ironically, Sunday’s gifts as a preacher eventually earned him more fame and money than baseball.
In this lithograph, George Bellows, the great realist of the early twentieth century, captures the fiery, spiritual intensity of Sunday’s oratory skills by emphasizing his forceful gesture—one that delights his audience and charges the whole scene with a celestial glow.